Mamanista! » Hottest Holiday Toys of 2009

Hottest Holiday Toys of 2009

Here are some of our favorite Hottest Holiday Toys for 2009. We’ve included the deluxe and the moderately priced, the indie handmade and the mass-produced, and some new toys mixed with old classics.

And don’t forget to check out our 12 Days of Giveaways. If you would like up to two extra entries to our 12 Days of Giveaways, just scroll down or click here for instructions.

Creative Pretend Play

Color Me House ($40) has an eco-friendly alternative to pricey, plastic play houses. Plus, your child gets to decorate with friends. We like the rocket ($50)–blast off! rocket_happy
Future fashion designers will be inspired by Harumika, a mannequin wuth a rubber “style lock system” for no-sew styling. (see the full review for a video of Harumika in action). Harumika even has social site where kids can share their designs. Starting at just $11 (Amazon), Harumika sets are a creative gift that won’t break the bank. Harumika Fashion Design Doll
Play tents create special spaces for their little occupants. My mom used to toss a sheet over two chairs and this simple cave miraculously transformed into whatever I could imagine. If you don’t want to use your bed linens, try this Playhut Thomas Tank Play Vehicle or Playhut Fire Engine. Lots of room to play, the clever design pop-ups quickly and then folds to save space, and the classic style inspires creativity. (Amazon – $25) thomas
Last year my daughter found the KidKraft Red Retro Kitchen (Amazon – $210) under the Christmas tree and it is still one of the slickest-looking wood kitchens on the market. This year, the brand new Step2 Fresh Market Kitchen ( – $200) has won smiles at our house for its 360 degrees of play possibilities. Step2 Kitchen and Market
Another instant classic from Playmobil, the Playmobil Pyramid has so many secret passageways and trap doors to keep all kids, ages 3 and up, entertained for hours. Works on husbands, too. playmobilpyramid

Musical Instruments

Guitar Heroes will jam and rock out with this guitar from First Act Discovery ($30). With a smaller scale, lighter weight, more pliable strings, and protective plastic covers over the sharp machine heads, children learning proper posture and hand position with less frustration. first-act-childrens-guitar
The family that plays music together has fun together. The Sun, Moon, Star Drum from Jamtown ($29) now has a DVD with the fun ways this instrument can teach rhythm and cooperation. Sun Moon and Star Drum Jamtown
My daughter enjoys playing her Toy Upright Piano by Melissa & Doug (Kazoo Toys – $50). If we did not have a real piano, I probably would have sprung for the Grand Piano by Melissa & Doug (Kazoo Toys – $119). Both come with song books so your child can learn to play simple tunes. Grand Piano by Melissa & Doug
This trio of musical instruments, castanets, guiro, and maracas, from Plan Toys (Kangaroo Boo – $4-7) is making a re-appearance from our 2008 list because we haven’t seen anything quite like them anywhere else. Sure to keep your kiddos shaking, grooving, and rocking to the beat. Like all Plan Toys creations, these are kid-safe and eco-friendly. Perfect stocking-stuffers! Stocking Stuffer Musical Instruments
If you have older kids who are ready to play melodies but you are not ready yet to invest in an instrument, a Kids’ Ocarina (STL Ocarina, $9 and up) is a great starter instrument. A simple wind instrument, the Ocarina is an easy way to learn about pitch and musical notation. And you can bring it everywhere you go! Choose plastic ocarinas for the youngest musicians or any of the fun designs, like this Orca Ocarina, for older kids, preteens, and teens. ocarina

Push and Pull and Zoom

We like toys that multi-task. This ImagiPLAY Rolling Snail Sorter (Amazon – $25) is a pull toy, a tumbler/roller, and a shape sorter. Cleverly constructed of rubber wood to provide hours of fun and get passed down through the years. Snail Pull Toy Shape Sorter from ImagiPlay
We are still huge fans of the Alligator by Plan Toys (Kazoo Toys– $19), manufactured in Thailand from renewable rubberwood. It is a new classic that deserves a repeat mention. He will dance his way into your heart as he click-clacks his way across the floor. Another unique wooden pull toy is this twirling dragon (Our Green House – $28.50). plan-toys-dancing-alligator
We also love zooming around Automoblox–wooden cars that kids can take apart, mix and match, and re-build. For younger kids, we like the Automoblox Minis (Amazon – $8 and up, some designs exclusive at Get this tough new T-900 Mini Truck ($14) or pick-up a three-pack of minis for plenty of design possibilities. automoblox_truck
A recycling truck made from recycled materials should be an obvious choice, but it took Green Toys to come up with the brilliant idea. The new Recycling Dump Truck ($20 – Amazon) from teaches kids to reuse, reduce, and recycle by example and through play. Green Toys Recycling Dump Truck
Sprig Toys has been winning rave reviews from parents and children for their nature-themed, eco-friendly toys. Of their new offerings, we like the Sprig Toys Adventures Dino Rescue Playset. sprig-toys-dino
The gorgeous styling on the push toys from Kooyman Designs ($14-16) has me swooning. A few other options from talented Etsians include the bright, mod stylings of pull toys from Cookie Dough ($23), the warm and charming Momma Bear and Cubs ($30) from Pioneer Pastimes, and the cheerful Turtle Pull Toy in custom colors from Gretchen ($12). lion
Plan Toys has become adept at taking classics and updating them in rubber wood with bright non-toxic dyes. This Push Duck makes a fun flapping sound when pushed–encouraging and delighting beginning walkers. 51550-push-along-small-duck-2

Easy Rider: Ride-On Toys

Kids love to scoot around on ride-ons, building independence and their physical coordination and strength. Ride-ons can be well-crafted, wooden, heirloom toys and this Giraffe Scoot-a-Long ($58 – Rosie Hippo) proves it. Climb aboard–next stop, a fun ride and a wild imagination. r105_giraffe-trike-tricycle_2
Little Tikes has produced a Cozy Coupe 30th Anniversary Car ($50 – Amazon) that is a sure-fire winner. In a playroom full of toys, all the kids line up for a turn with the Cozy Coupe. cozycoupe
Nothing says active fun quite like Radio Flyer and I am digging the retro detailing on the Radio Flyer Retro Rocket Ride-on ($50 – Amazon)–blast off for fun! radioflyerretrorocket

Educational Toys and Puzzles

Preschoolers on up will enjoy solving the picture puzzle on these simple, yet clever Backyard Buddy Puzzle Blocks from ImagiPLAY (Wild Dill or Amazon – $12). buddy-blocks
Young geniuses will get an introduction to logic puzzles with Animal Logic ($25 – Fat Brain Toys). Move all of the wooden animal pieces across the river in the correct order to solve the game.Preschoolers may be able to complete the first few problems with some hints but the hardest riddles will keep educated adults entertained. animal-logic
For the literary-minded, Bananagrams ($15 – Amazon) is a hot, new word puzzle. We recommended this last year and since then its following has grown. Play Bananagrams with family and friends in the game format, on facebook, or as an iPhone app. bananagrams
It is hard to pick just one offering from LeapFrog’s variety of educational toys. The LeapFrog TAG ($50 – Amazon) and new TAG, Jr. have given us a lot of mileage and my preschooler has been learning to write with her Scribble & Write ($17 – Amazon) and to spell simple three-letter words with her Fridge Words Magnetic Word Builder. Scribble and Write
The PlanToys Animal Domino Memo is a classic memory game that helps build logical thinking as children try to remember where they last saw an image. The chunky, convex blocks are easy for little hands to grab and turn over. Learn colors, animals, and patterns, or turn the blocks on their sides to practice balance, line them up, and knock them down like dominoes. animal_memo_sq

Cuddly Friends

Zambi the Baby Elephant (Furreal Friends) ($45) is a charmer. He giggles and will even give you a kiss. But Zambi has a serious side–50% of the net profits go to benefit orphans of the AIDS epidemic in Africa. zambi

Zoobie Pets Lilly the Ladybug
(Kazoo Toys – $32) makes a great cuddly pal and traveling companion–a plush pet that unfolds into a pillow and blanket. Zoobie Pets comes it dozens of cute animal styles and are perfect for trips to Grandma’s or even sleepovers for older kids.
Generously-sized, psychedelically-vivid attract attention from adults and kids alike, Color Zoo ($20) is available at Allen Ave. Designer Plush Animal
My daughter’s “fairy godmother” got her this hip fellow. His designers call him “Elvis” (BEEPOSH, $48), but I think this lion looks more like a George Clinton. Elvis Lion from BEEPOSH
It was love at first sight–CurlyQCuties ($25) are custom-designed monsters handmade in the USA. Create a monster using their easy design interface and then welcome a charming little plush creature into your home. (see our full review for our monster) This darling creature is a special edition monster in memory of Maddie and a portion of your purchase is donated to the March of Dimes. Maddie's Monster March of Dimes

Shake, Rattle and Chew: Teethers and Rattles

We’re big fans of the Oball. One of our editors gushed like a schoolgirl at a rock concert when she met the creator at Toy Fair. He showed her the awesome new Oball Rattle ($10). Babies love the Oball with its easy-to grip geodesic-like shape so adding a rattling sound was a natural fit. The Oball is easy to take along because it squishes flat. Plus, if you step on this toy in your sleep-deprived state, it will just collapse and then spring back into shape. oballrattle
Last year we recommended the Skwish for your future molecular biologist or geodesic dome designer. Now check out the Manhattan Baby Natural Skwish ($ 15 – Amazon). skwish
Both of the Mamanista baby boys have the Winkel by Manhattan Toy (Kazoo Toys – $14) . The Winkel is easy to grab, fun to chew, and makes a soft rattle sound…and yes, the name makes me giggle. One of our favorites is still Sophie the Giraffe (Craftsbury Kids – $19). For a safe, calming teether you can put in the refrigerator, try the Cool It Apple Teether by Natursutten (Kangaroo Boo – $10). When my older girl was teething, she loved these teething beads by Nuby. All of these teethers are BPA-free and Phthalate-free according to their manufacturers. BPA-Free Phthalate-Free Teethers
Or, avoid plastic and latex and opt for a wood and organic cotton teether and rattle (Our Green House – $17.50). My son loves the soft rattle sound and chews on the wood ring and the cloth knots.

Arts and Crafts

The Step2 All Around Art Tower ($70 – Step2) is great for crafting families with more than one young child or for junior artists who enjoy collaborative projects. Kids can sit around the table, which comes with two stools but has room for at least three 3-5 year olds. There are conical compartments for crayons, markers, and other supplies and clips for drying and displaying finished artwork. allaroundarttower
Crafts are a great way to bond and learn. Some of the best crafts are made from re-purposing things you already have around the house. We also enjoy craft kits from Kazoo Toys, HearthSong, Magic Cabin, and One of our favorite jewelry crafts are these “Opti-Art” bubble glass charms. Children can paint or glue a favorite image on the back: Heart pendants ($15 for 6 – Hearth Song) and Opti Art Bracelets Art Kit by Creativity for Kids ($15 – Kazoo Toys).WWZZX heart-pendants
My little girl loves her Aquadoodle mat ($20-40 retail, depending on the style). Just add water to the pen and your child can doodle for hours with no mess to clean up and no wasted paper. Aquadoodle
Remember fashion plates? Choose three plates and then use your crayon to create a stylish rubbing. Back-to-Basics has the exclusive Fashion Designer ($23). Younger kids will get a kick out of creating textures with Alex Toys Little Hands, My Rub Art ($11). fashion-plates

Dolls and Doll Houses

Scaling back this year? This sweetly traditional Kidkraft Cottage Dollhouse Play Set (Baby Earth, $70) is move-in ready in sturdy, sustainable rubberwood. Another sure kid crowd-pleaser is the Melissa & Doug Multi-Level Solid Wood Dollhouse w/ Family of 5 Dolls (Amazon – $135). kid_kraft_dollhouse
Boys like to play with doll houses, too. If you want one that even Dad will think is cool, we love the KidKraft Fun Explorers Rocket Ship ($110 – Amazon) we spotted at Toy Fair. Kidkraft Rocketship House and Playset
Last year we recommended the Fold & Go Dollhouse by Melissa & Doug (Kazoo Toys – $57, with accessories), which has been sturdy enough to survive my two pint-sized landlords but is lightweight enough to bring along to Grandmas. This year, I’m excited about the Melissa & Doug Fold and Go Mini Castle (Amazon – $35)–all the convenient fun with an extra dose of fantasy.. melissadougfoldcastle
You can immediately see that Debadoo dolls are crafted with love. When I met the Etsian at a local fair, I was immediately captivated by her adorable, crazy-quilt patchwork dolls. I wasn’t surprised to find out a person with this much love also makes quilts for children in foster homes and homeless shelters as part of her other project: Bright Hopes. debadoo
In our first ever toy awards we shared the beautiful Karito Kids dolls. Now Karito Kids has a new line of affordable and still stylish and chic Karito Kids “Travel Charmers” soft dolls ($20 – Amazon). Adventurous, multicultural, and oh-so-fashionable, the Karito Kids are still out to save the world, one story at a time. karito-kids-travel-charmers
If your child likes to take a baby doll everywhere, then you will appreciate Corolle Tidoo Dolls ($30-40 – Amazon). Part of the high-quality Corolle Dolls collection, the Tidoo dolls are soft-bodied baby dolls that dry quickly even after they join your child for a bath. My daughter likes to drag hers around on errands and then give her a bath in the sink. Tidoo quick drying bath dolls


Think beyond buildings to boats, airplanes, even forest animals with Totem from Kids on a Roof (Oompa – $32). Last year’s pick, Connectagons (HearthSong – $25), are worth mentioning again. With multiple connections, there’s no limit to what you can build. They have a new style with butterfly and flower-shaped tiles but I think the geometric style is more open-ended. kids-on-roof-totem
Older kids can build medieval fortresses and cathedrals with the Kings and Castles Block Set (HearthSong – $80). Preschoolers will like Wee Wedgits. And Oompa Toys stocks almost every type of soft blocks, baby blocks, stacking blocks, and architectural blocks imaginable. castle blocks
They aren’t new but I love these Doll House Building Blocks ($20 – Babalu) by WJ Fantasy because they are lined inside (easier to wipe-down) and turn into the rooms of a “doll house” for children who are ready to move beyond simple stacking. wjblocks

To enter any of our 12 Days of Giveaways, just leave a comment on the specific sweepstakes post. You can receive up to three extra entries:

  • Share the Hottest Holiday Toys: Link to the Hottest Holiday Toys for 2009 in a post on your blog or on any publicly visible web page where you are allowed to do so and/or use the social media icons (StumbleUpon, Kirtsy, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) below to share the Hottest Holiday Toys for 2009. Please contribute to the conversation by sharing your favorite toy from our guide or telling us about your child’s favorite toy!
  • Then Leave an Additional, Separate Comment on the Contests You Enter: You only need post and/or share the Hottest Holiday Toys for 2009 one time for each extra entry, but remember to leave additional comments on each of the individual contests you enter so your entries will count.

Here are the currently posted giveaways:

  1. Step2 Fresh Market Kitchen (ARV $200) – Ends November 30, 2009, 11:59 PM EST
  2. Harumika Fashion Design Mannequin (ARV $50) – Ends December 1, 2009, 11:59 PM EST
  3. Zambi the Baby Elephant (Furreal Friends) (ARV $45) – Ends December 2, 2009, 11:59 PM EST
  4. Wee Wedgits 30 Piece Set (ARV $45)- Ends December 3, 2009, 11:59PM EST
  5. LEGO City ZipBin (ARV $20)- Ends December 4, 2009, 11:59PM EST
  6. Plan Toys Push-a-Long Duck (ARV $35) – Ends December 7, 11:59PM EST
  7. LeapFrog Scribble & Write and Count and Chat – Ends Decemer 8, 11:59 EST
  8. Rosie Hippo Exclusive Wooden Truck – Winner’s Choice (ARV $44) – Ends December 14, 11:59 PM EST
  9. Little Tikes Cozy Coupe (ARV $50) – Ends December 22, 11:59 PM EST
  10. Chicky Boom (ARV $25)- Ends December 21, 11:59PM EST
  11. Bananagrams (ARV $20)- Ends December 21, 11:59PM EST
  12. Make Your Own Pop-Up Books (ARV $20)- Ends December 21, 11:59PM EST

If you want to link up to our guide, please feel free to grab the code below for our button! Thank you!


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